Whether you are a family caregiver or a professional caregiver, you know that taking care of someone who suffers from incontinence can be a very demanding job. Apart from the physical tasks involved, it also requires a healthy dose of psychological nurturing. As the caregiver, you have to learn how to anticipate and manage situations to ensure that the person you are taking care of has as few problems as possible.
To take care of someone with incontinence, the first thing you need to do is understand their condition. This article will help you learn about incontinence and how you can help someone deal with the condition.
What is incontinence?
For most people, it is easy to delay a trip to the bathroom. However, for a large number of people, holding it in is a problem. Incontinence is a condition that can affect anyone, but it is more common among older people. The term incontinence describes the involuntary or accidental loss of urine from the bladder or feces or wind from the bowels, known as urinary continence or fecal or bowel incontinence. It is a vast condition that can range from a small leak to complete loss of bowel or bladder control.
What are the causes of incontinence?
There are several causes of incontinence. Some of these reasons only cause temporary problems, but others can cause more serious and persistent issues. Here are some causes of incontinence:
External or lifestyle factors can sometimes cause incontinence in people. Drinking beverages that contain high amounts of caffeine, alcohol, or just too much fluid can cause people to temporarily lose control of their bladder. Some medications such as muscle relaxants, sedatives, blood pressure drugs, and some heart medications can also cause temporary incontinence. Conditions like constipation and urinary tract infection are also known to result in incontinence.
As people grow older, the muscles in their bladders become weaker and they become more susceptible to incontinence.
The prostate glands of nearly all men become enlarged with age, which can result in incontinence.
The muscles in the pelvic floor help support the bladder, so any damage caused to this area can result in incontinence. The muscles can become weak due to surgery, childbirth, or even accidents.
Bladder cancer and prostate cancer in men are the most common cancer-related causes of incontinence. In some cases, incontinence can result as a side-effect from chemotherapy. Tumors and kidney or bladder stones have also been known to be the cause of incontinence in some people.
Now that you know what incontinence is and its causes, it is important that you are aware of what you should do while taking care of someone with incontinence. This article will serve as a guide or a checklist while serving as a caregiver for someone with incontinence and handling the situations that could arise. Here are some situations that you need to be aware of:
If the person needs help going to the bathroom:
One of the easiest ways of controlling incontinence is by creating a schedule. If the person rushes to use the bathroom immediately after the urge arises, they can increase their chances of having an accident. It is ideal to help them use the bathroom every three to four hours.
Make sure that the passages, hallways, and bathrooms are well-lit and free of any obstacles that could trip someone.
Install grab bars and railings, if required. You could also use a raised toilet seat to make it easier to get on and off the toilet.
In case of occasional accidents:
Always keep in mind that these accidents can be very embarrassing for the person you are taking care of. Remain calm and reassure them that these accidents are normal.
Maintain a matter-of-fact approach and do not be over sympathetic.
Monitor for urinary tract infections. If they develop a fever that lasts for more than 24 hours, make sure they see a doctor.
In case of frequent accidents:
Make sure a doctor conducts a thorough evaluation and recommends treatment.
Create a regular schedule for going to the toilet.
Avoid beverages that contain alcohol, caffeine, citrus juices, and other kinds of bladder irritants.
Make sure they consume at least six to eight glasses of water every day.
Learn what kind of medications they are taking.
Here are other things you can do to help ease their incontinence:
If the person you are taking care of has constipation, make sure their diet consists of fiber-rich foods like nuts, bran, vegetables, cereal, etc. Encourage daily exercise to improve bowel activity.